I’m sitting in the window of the gathering room in the Fort Mason Hostel, San Francisco. The sky is lightening and from my window perch, I have a clear view of the bay and Angel Island. They’re piping in Harry Nilsson over the intercom, what a wonderful way to start a morning. It is the first time that I feel that this might actually work. Yesterday I was tired having not slept at all the night before and a little defeated. I’ve already lost my camera – FAIL! So will have to rely on my phone for documentation for the first week of my trip provided Delta doesn’t miraculously come up with my Nikon. All is not lost, I went on ebay and found some good prices for its replacement (since I already have a spare battery and charger for it, and I love the way that camera photographs). Last time I lost a camera, I was well, intoxicated, and was more heart-broken by the loss of the photographs from a friend’s wedding. I learned from that experience, and so have retained on my computer all but a few photos – most of which I had taken duplicates with my phone anyway. If I get nothing more out of this life lesson than always ALWAYS do a check before I leave, that will be enough.
After we arrived at the SFO airport, we took the BART into the city (it was around Daly City that I realized I was without a camera) and got off at the Mission so that we could beat the city pavement under an increasingly darkening sky to REI. Kae’s pack was irritating him as it really wasn’t a proper backpacking pack but a technical daypack. (As full grey daylight appears, I see Alcatraz through the trees and the soundtrack has changed to “The Way I Feel Inside” by the Zombies, a lovely little tune). We were in REI when the sky erupted – a good two hours. By the time we got out of the store, I picked up some smartwool socks that are intended to prevent blisters, dusk was falling and it was a mere steady sprinkle as we made the 3.3 mile trek to our hostel. Had I been aware of it, I would have booked a night in the Center City hostel – not quite as long a hike and closer to where the action is. We have the great fortune of landing in San Francisco during Beer Week, and I’d like very much to take part in at least one event but the location of our hostel would have necessitated further navigation of the San Francisco transit and I was exhausted last night. Too tired to eat, by the time we got to our hostel, I took a hot hot shower (thanks be to the small things) and went to bed foregoing a meal. But today is another day. We’ve got a couch for the next two nights (found through couchsurfing.org) and a host who is familiar with the city and will be sure to tip us off on cheap but tasty eats and places to see. From my past experience in San Francisco (spring 2006 for the ICOMOS conference), I remember the classicly designed Palace of Fine Arts and the Spanish mission-style Presidio – both of which are adjacent to our hostel. As is Fisherman’s Wharf, a tourist trap. Really, I’m just interested in looking at the buildings and the views. I’d like to ride a cable car, something I never had the chance to do last time as we had rented our own car. We’ll hit Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, and the adjacent Haight-Ashbury District I’m sure. I’d like to walk over to the Financial district for the architecture as well. A fellow couch surfer suggested we hit Sandy’s on 9th and Judah and pick up a Vietnamese sandwich and take it to Golden Gate Park for some people watching. I think that sounds wonderful. I figured from the SF Beer Week schedule posted on-line. we can pick an event tonight and get directions and transit cues from our host (or transit.511.org – a great site to navigate the MUNI and BART). As I’ve been writing this post, the music has increasingly left me with the feeling that, were I to hear John Lennon’s “Oh Yoko!” this could be the exact playlist that a former boyfriend used to fall asleep. It has changed to one of those iconic and ever wonderful Otis tunes, that now carries a more personal connotation for me – “I left my home in Georgia, heading for the ‘Frisco Bay…..”
That’s it for blog post one. Will update with pictures later.